Friend Dating 101
The familiar nervous jitters. The incessant rereading of text messages before sending them. The palpable awkwardness of your overly excited hello as you rush pass them on your way to class.
Was that too much?
It definitely was too much.
All of these feelings are often symptoms of the beginning stages of dating or “seeing someone” or whatever label-less emotion-inducing maze that can be best and unfortunately summarized as a “crush.” Sorry about the 90’s and early 2000‘s nostalgia.
I nudged my friend, motioning to my open text message chat, and asked if my question was “too forward.” I was asking my newfound texting buddy to come over to hang out with my group of friends, which was basically an introduction to an already long-established and extremely dysfunctional family. Nerve-wracking indeed.
But the thing was, this wasn’t a “crush.” I wasn’t interested in dating or a relationship. I just wanted to make a new friend, which is precisely when I realized an uncomfortable reality: making friends is very similar to dating.
Most people are familiar with the initial steps of “friend-dating.” First, the friend request on Facebook, otherwise known as the universal language for getting to know someone at a comfortable distance, both impersonal and padded by the online facade of edited profile pictures and overly analyzed comments. While Facebook friend requests don’t necessarily scream best friends forever, the exchange of numbers, often cited for a utilitarian purpose - you know, “in case I need to get a hold of you for school,” opens up a new intimacy. Call me old fashioned, but a phone number really means things are getting friendly.
If your conversations go beyond the realm of worrying about the upcoming midterm in your shared class or switching shifts at work, you proceed to the next step: casual chatting, often involving a hot beverage so you can avoid eye contact when necessary by taking a well-timed sip.
Once you figure out that you hate the same things, you move on to the “meeting the friends” stage, by inviting them to interact with you at a party or other social event. This is crucial. Can they be cool and have fun with your friends? If the answer is a resounding yes, you’ve found yourself a real keeper.
Then, the last and most important barrier to true friendship: the friend date. Typically, an exchange over all-you-can-eat sushi or greasy pizza, the friend date solidifies your friendship. Not only have you found someone you can hang out with after class, rely on to go to parties together, and text while waiting for appointments, but someone you who you can enjoy a one-on-one outing with. Not only are they interesting and fun to be around, but they like good food too. This date makes it official; you have made a new friend, which is a commendable accomplishment because making new friends can be difficult and stressful.
Bonus: sappy drunk texts that may or may not include the possibly misspelled words, “you’re seriously my best friend.” Maybe in that order, maybe not. But who cares? You’re friends now, and your new friend will be delighted to fill you in on your maybe-not-so-sober love fest.